If you love pâté (and who doesn’t?) this chicken liver ragù is an absolute must try. It’s deeply old school Italian – with a suitably deeply old school Italian name: ragù di fegatini di pollo – like the way meatloaf or shepherd’s pie is for us, and it’s genius.

I’m deeply in love with all the classic Italian sauces that we never hear about outside of Italy or high-end autentico restaurants. I’m talking way beyond amatriciana or carbonara; I love stuff like pasta alla norcina or ragù modenese. These sauces are so quick, so simple, and so cheap, it’s a shame many of us have to go to expensive Italian restaurants to experience it.

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

I was inspired to make this after seeing it on the menu of our local aforementioned expensive Italian restaurant a couple of months ago. It just clicked with me: chicken livers are the secret ingredient in ragù Bolognese, why wouldn’t they taste good on their own? I’ve been obsessed with making this for months, but somehow never found the time, until now, and I’m so happy I did.

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

If you have everything prepped, this sauce comes together in the time it takes to cook your pasta. There’s no 6 hour simmer here. The most expensive ingredient is the cheese, but even so, all in it was about a dollar a plate, and it literally tastes like the love child of a really good chicken liver pâté and an amazing restaurant-made plate of authentic Italian pasta.

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

A note on guanciale, the only ingredient that might be hard to find: if you’ve never had guanciale, it’s a sweet cured pork cheek that you can probably find locally made by someone in most major cities. I’m sure I’ll get some grief from some Italians for saying this, but you can use it anytime the base of your pasta calls for any form of cured pork.

In keeping with the theme of this post, one cheek keeps me and Steph in pasta for months, and costs less than $10 at our local charcuterie. The equivalent amount of pancetta/proscuitto would be 10x that much. It’s so worth it to seek it out.

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

And the same goes for this pasta. I made it two nights in a row (because I bought a pound of liver) and we were sad when it was all gone. I was tempted to make this sauce senza-liver, because it was so pretty with just guanciale, shallots, sage, and garlic, but the liver was so good we decided to wait until we get more liver and do it justice.

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe

Serves 2
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 oz chicken livers trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 oz guanciale chopped, see note
  • 4 fresh sage leaves chopped, plus extra for frying
  • 1 tsp double concentrated tomato paste see note
  • 1/3 cup white wine italian preferred
  • 1 cup parmigiano reggiano grated

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add your pasta and cook to 1 minute before the package time. Sprinkle a little salt on your chicken livers at the same time. (Note the photo here is pre-chopped, your liver should be more chopped than this).
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat up your oil in a large non stick skillet over medium heat. If you are going to fry sage leaves, drop them carefully in the oil for 30 seconds per side, then remove to a paper towel to drain.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Cook the shallot and guanciale until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped sage. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn, 1-2 minutes.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the tomato paste and continue to stir. Cook until the tomato paste has darkened slightly, 1-2 minutes.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the liver and wine, turning the heat up to medium-high. Crush the liver into tiny bits if needed. Once the wine has reduced by half (about 2 minutes), add most of the cheese, toss to mix lightly, then reduce the heat to low while you wait for the pasta to finish. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Once the pasta has finished cooking, transfer it to the skillet using soft tongs or a spider. Alternately, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta, then transfer to skillet without rinsing. Turn the heat up on the skillet to medium high and toss until well coated. If the sauce seems dry, add pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, as needed.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Top with remaining cheese, black pepper, and sage leaves, if using.
    Sage and Chicken Liver Ragù Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

If you can't find guanciale, you can sub pancetta or bacon.
Use 2 tsp regular tomato sauce, but a tube of double concentrated tomato sauce can live in your fridge as needed. We love Mutti.
Inspired by https://www.internazionale.it/notizie/rachel-roddy/2019/02/27/ricetta-fettuccine-ragu-fegatini

5 Comments

  1. Smadar says:

    Looks great! How much pasta did you use? What’s the shape of pasta in the pictures called?

    1. Mike says:

      It’s about 6oz of mafalda corta in the photos.

      1. Smadar says:

        5 stars
        Thanks. Just made this tonight and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Love everything about this!

  3. Tiff says:

    this looks so delicious! i cannot wait to make it!

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